This week the Baker-Polito Administration joined City of Quincy officials to celebrate the 20,000th tree planted under the Commonwealth’s Greening the Gateway Cities Program and to highlight the importance of trees within local communities.

The administration also announced $140,270 in 2019 Urban and Community Forestry Challenge Grants to fourteen municipalities. The grants will help maximize the social, economic, and environmental benefits of increased tree canopies within these communities.

Governor Charlie Baker said,  “Healthy, green and accessible open spaces are an essential component of the public’s well-being and our administration is proud to continue partnering with local municipalities and non-profit groups to ensure that trees and parks remain a priority. The Greening the Gateway Communities Program and Urban and Community Forestry Challenge Grants provide important resources for local officials focused on doing their part to strengthen and enhance tree canopies across the Commonwealth.”

Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Matthew Beaton called the 20,000th tree planting of the Greening the Gateway Cities Program “an excellent opportunity to recognize the positive work done in Massachusetts communities and the benefits that trees provide across the Commonwealth.  The 2019 Urban and Community Forestry Challenge Grants will assist local governments and non-profit stakeholders in maintaining and protecting tree canopies through strategic planning.”

The 2019 Urban and Community Forestry Challenge Grants, which range from $2,000 to $20,000, will assist in the following key areas:

  • Building and strengthening citizen advocacy;
  • Creating a Community Wood Bank;
  • Developing and adopting tree and forest ordinances and policies;
  • Developing and implementing an urban forestry management plan; and
  • Completing strategic community tree plantings and “Heritage Tree” care projects.


Department of Conservation and Recreation Commissioner Leo Roy thanked the Administration for continuing “to make investments in our state’s natural resources, that include providing and administering vital funds through programs like the Urban and Community Forestry Grants Program, conserving and protecting environmentally important land throughout the Commonwealth and promoting the Greening the Gateway Cities Program.  More trees across the Commonwealth will improve the air we breathe, reduce energy consumption and beautify our neighborhoods.”

Quincy Mayor Thomas P. Koch said,  “Environmentally, the planting of a tree contributes to better air quality and supports wildlife. Furthermore, the trees outside the school offer shade for the students and faculty. The idea that this particular tree planting is the 20,000th is so significant to show the dedication to the program.”

As a participant of the Greening the Gateway Cities Program, trees are provided free of charge and are planted by DCR work crews. To be eligible, residents and property owners must agree to a two-year watering commitment to ensure the trees’ survival. Easy care instructions are provided by DCR to tree recipients addressing watering, mulching and pruning. When a potential tree recipient registers, a DCR urban forester will visit their home to determine the best location and species of tree for energy efficiency. They also conduct year-round site visits and are available to answer questions. To find out if you are in the planting zone and order a free tree, property owners and residents should call 617-626-1473. For more information, please visit the program’s webpage.

Additionally, the funds for the 50-50 matching grant program are provided by the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Forest Service and the Massachusetts ReLeaf Trust Fund, and are administered by the DCR. Three of the fourteen grant 2019 awards were funded from the Mass ReLeaf Trust Fund utilizing donations from the National Grid Corporation and Eversource Corporation. National Grid and Eversource contribute to DCR to offer Urban Forestry Challenge Grants.

2019 Urban and Community Forestry Challenge Grants:

City of Framingham, Community & Economic Development Division
Brief Description: Downtown North Strategic Tree Planting
Amount Awarded: $11,000

Town of Athol
Brief Description: Community Wood Bank
Amount Awarded: $2,000

Town of Deerfield
Brief Description: Deerfield Strategic Tree Planting and Environmental Education
Amount Awarded: $4,800

Town of Maynard
Brief Description: Maynard Shade Tree Inventory and Management Plan
Amount Awarded: $20,100

Town of Lanesborough, Tree and Forest Committee
Brief Description: “King Elmer”: The Lanesborough Elm
Amount Awarded: $1,200

City of Medford
Brief Description: Medford Canopy Improvement Initiative
Amount Awarded: $20,000

Town of Millbury
Brief Description: Street Tree Planting
Amount Awarded: $5,670

Town of Montague, Tree Advisory Committee
Brief Description: Montague Wood Bank Improvement Project
Amount Awarded: $2,000

Town of Natick
Brief Description: Natick Tree Health Survey
Amount Awarded: $7,000

Town of Needham
Brief Description: Needham Tree Protection Health Planning and Planting Project
Amount Awarded: $10,000

City of Northampton
Brief Description: Transforming Downtown Heat Island with Proper Plantings
Amount Awarded: $30,000

Town of Palmer
Brief Description: Community Wood Bank
Amount Awarded: $2,000

Town of Plainfield, Historical Society for the Plainfield Tree Alliance
Brief Description: Pittsfield Community Wood Bank
Amount Awarded: $2,000

City of Springfield
Brief Description: Forest Park Neighborhood Urban Forest Assessment
Amount Awarded: $22,500

Currently, the Department of Conservation and Recreation is accepting project grant proposals for calendar year 2020. Please visit the agency’s Urban and Community Forestry Challenge Grants webpage for additional details.